Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Vertigo (movie)

Vertigo is a 1958 film thriller by Alfred Hitchcock which tells the story of a detective, afraid of heights, who is hired to follow the straying wife of an old friend, but falls in love with her -- he thinks. It stars James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones and Raymond Bailey.

The movie was adapted by Samuel A. Taylor and Alec Coppel from the novel d'Entre les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

The final script was entirely written by Samuel Taylor from notes by Hitchcock. However, a number of elements survive from an earlier script by Alec Coppel, including the opening rooftop sequence, the Cypress Point kiss, the two visits to San Juan Batista, and the famous nightmare sequence. When Taylor attempted to take sole credit for the screenplay, Coppel protested to the Writers Guild, who determined that both writers were entitled to credit.

Vertigo was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White or Color and Best Sound. The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 2002 it was chosen the second greatest film of all time (behind Citizen Kane) by the Sight & Sound critic's poll.

Vertigo is notable for the first use of the "Hitchcock zoom", an in-camera perspective distortion special effect, created by Hitchcock to suggest the dizzying effect of disorientation that gives the film its title.

Francois Truffaut suggested the novel d'Entre les Morts was specifically written for Hitchock by Boileau and Narcejac after Hitchcock was unable to buy the rights for their previous novel, Celle qui n'était plus, which was made into the movie Les Diaboliques. However, Narcejac has subsequently denied that this was their intention.

After a year-long restoration effort by Robert Harris and James Katz, the film was re-released to theaters in 1996. The new print featured restored color and an enhanced soundtrack with digital sound. It was also exhibited for the first time in 70mm.